The Reluctant Stylista

Barre3 studio

Watching a barre3 class from outside the glass windows suddenly made me a bit nervous–surely a far cry from the completely gung-ho way I accepted the trial invite from Rowena just a week before.  What have I gotten myself into this time?  I saw how people inside the class were comfortably stretching their muscles and limbering up their bodies as I mentally squared myself off with them.  Now why was I here again?

In actuality, I am mostly too lazy for exercise, somewhat gym-allergic and I even hate walking.  Though I enjoy sports, I can’t even remember the last time I engaged in something more strenuous than fighting my brother for the last bag of Doritos.  In short, I have been pretty much out of shape for the past few years, with little tolerance for anything that requires stamina (without competitive motivation).  And lately, I’ve been sleeping pretty badly, too, what with my irregular schedule and all.  It was only a matter of time before I dragged myself out of my sedentary lifestyle to do something about it (and believe me, I’ve been saying that for the past year without results)–hence, committing myself to a Barre3 session, hoping to jumpstart my transition to a healthy-friendly 2010 I’ve been spouting so much about.

So what is barre3?  It’s this 60-minute workout combination of the ballet barre, yoga and pilates.  It works on building longer and leaner muscles and strengthening the core.  From what I gathered during that workout, it improves not only muscle balance and flexibility, but also helps to correct posture and breathing.  I swear you’ll feel it the first ten minutes into the studio.  I suppose that’s the yoga part–I’ve always been curious about yoga since it seems glamorous to me (like it’s the celebrities’ exercise of choice).  If I had known the ballet part sooner, I probably would have balked, seeing as memories of my skinny and awkward prepubescent self in a tutu still haunts me everytime I think about it.  Thankfully though, I think the barre helped a whole LOT in making the whole experience more manageable.  I’ve never done Pilates and I only know that my Hollywood girl-crush Rachel Weisz does it (not that she claims it’s any fun, but it apparently works).

I was pretty relieved when I met the others at the trial session that night, hearing how many of them weren’t regular gym rats, either.  So far, so good.  I didn’t have to pretend that I knew what I was doing there, hah!  I was with my sister, and as soon as we entered the studio, we were told to pick up a pair of weights, a ball and a strap.  I immediately picked up the smallest weights there, even though my sister wanted to get something heavier (we both develop muscles way too easily for my taste, so I’m always careful to avoid looking like a pro-wrestler).  Not long after we started our warm-up with master trainer Darcy Harding, I realized we were here for some serious stretching.  And boy, do I mean serious stretching–I quickly saw how this was going to make anyone leaner and more flexible.  I was suddenly grateful I picked up the lightest of weights because we were stretching our limbs slowly, balancing, building up the pressure so that you can practically feel those muscles you weren’t acquainted with before suddenly say hello.  They were supposedly simple instructions–lift your leg, stretch your arms to the center–but what made it difficult was the pacing.  It didn’t look far from the tai-chi I’d often see in kung fu movies, I thought.  I wanted to be like those monks, looking so graceful and zen-like, but I was only met with my own trembling knees.  Gah!

Guys doing Barre3

T’was no walk in the park for the guys, either!  Are those grimaces in place of smiles? Haha!

Darcy told us that if were finding the weights to be too much of a strain, we were welcome to let go and continue the stretching without them.  I almost did, pride be damned!  But I wanted to push myself as I rarely ever do, so I concentrated on my breathing to take my mind off the weights instead.  It was a wise move–combining the breathing and the correct posture that Darcy repeatedly instructed us, I found that it was so much easier to bear the weights.  I was actually pretty surprised when the stretching had ended and I forgot I still had them in my hands.

The barre exercises were harder, with a lot of leg stretching and even more balancing acts.  It helped to concentrate on posture, because every time we were doing a stretch that seemed to strain my neck, I’d check the mirrors to see if my spine and hips were straight, even my shoulders, then I’d adjust my weight accordingly.  The key seemed to be pressing my weight onto my feet to lessen the strain on my neck.  We were doing push-ups on the barre, and I just knew that tomorrow morning, I’d definitely be feeling all this again.  I was right–the next day, I was sore all over: my chest, biceps, triceps, buttocks and thighs totally felt the exercise, after years of inactivity!  However, Darcy did say that if we woke up with aching bodies the next morning, it only meant we were doing it right.

When we hit the mats, there were exercises for the glutes and abs.  Darcy had us “squeezing the lemon”, getting the ball between our knees and squeezing it tightly until my legs were shaking like mad again!  My favorite part was “scooping up the belly” because it didn’t seem such a bad thing to lie down, catch my breath, and let my tummy tuck itself in and out.  It’s definitely more comfortable than regular crunches.

Darcy Harding

Anytime I’d feel the strain too much, I’d take pictures instead. It’s less embarrassing that way. Here, master trainer Darcy Harding shows us how to do it properly.  And it’s not as easy as it looks.

When we were done, I couldn’t believe that only an hour had passed!  I thought at first that 60-minutes for a workout wouldn’t be much, but I was wrong.  I felt utterly stretched, and I still remember my shaking legs, but surprisingly, I felt relaxed and–dare I say it?–graceful.  Like I was taller and stronger.  And able to  fly through tall bamboo shoots ala Crouching Tiger.  And maybe look like Zhang Ziyi too, while we’re at it.

All in all, it was a fantastic workout–not that I have much comparison, but anything that makes me feel more flexible, leaner, and stronger is good in my book.  I was tired afterwards, but it was the calming, good kind.  I think maybe it was all that breathing and holding those positions.  After all, barre3 is recommended even for people with injuries.  Children can also participate, as well as pregnant women, although for the latter, a doctor’s approval and alternate positions are a must.

Barre3 is still new here in the Philippines, exclusively available at The Spa.  They have morning, afternoon and night classes to cater to everyone.

For your free trial, call:

Alabang 8363184
The Fort 4035884
Rockwell 0918-8-8THESPA
Eastwood 0918-8-8THESPA

Rates:

Classes
Single Class Php 700
10 class (valid for 2 months) Php 5,500
30 class (valid for 6 months) Php 15,000

Membership
Monthly Unlimited membership
(valid for 30 consecutive days) Php 5,500

Annual Unlimted membership Php 50,000

Special Rates
Private session (one-on-one) Php 2,000
Exclusive session (minimum of two clients) Php 1,500/person

For more information, visit the following websites:
http://barre3.files.wordpress.com
http://www.barre3.com/

Photos:

Unwatermarked photos were taken from the above sites.  I’ll be updating this post later this week for more pictures, as my computer suddenly died on me and I was left with the photos that my sister managed to salvage.

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